We’ve been having a lot of fun in the garden this year and have planted more veggies and herbs than ever before. There’s nothing like walking out the back door and grabbing some lettuce for a lunch salad or basil for a spaghetti dinner. Adults are often the only ones in the family who get their hands dirty, but did you know there are many reasons to garden with kids? Not only is gardening fun and relaxing, but it offers a number of cognitive, social and emotional benefits to children. Even if you’re not a huge fan of gardening yourself, perhaps this is the year to get a little dirty planting a few plants. Check out these five top reasons to garden with kids.
- Encourages patience: Gardening teaches children to wait for rewards. Each day, they can see the garden’s progress, but there is no way to rush a seed. It will grow in its own time. In today’s hectic world, gardening offers a glimpse into days gone by and helps children tap into the natural way the world works.
- Models cause and effect: Plant well and the seeds grow. Fail to water in times of drought and plants may die. Care for your crops and you will gain bountiful fruit. When you garden with kids, they learn that their attentiveness to the garden or lack thereof can cause a good or a bad effect.
- Helps with nutrition: I believe when people grow up enjoying garden-fresh and farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, their palate always prefers that to canned, jarred foods or processed foods. Whole foods are significantly better for a person than other types and eating from one’s own garden fosters a love and respect for whole foods.
- Offers agricultural knowledge: I worry that children today think food comes off the back of a truck. By growing produce in one’s garden, children will learn that only the earth can yield delicious fruits and vegetables and that hours of sweat and work go into what eventually becomes a beautiful display at the grocery store. Gardening offers a platform to talk with kids about a realm of farming and agricultural topics.
- Teaches academic skills: When gardening, children learn about the life cycle of a plant. They also observe similarities and differences between seeds and plants. Children can keep a journal to take notes with the scientific method as a guide. Younger children can solidify counting, sorting and number recognition skills while older children can calculate the germination rate (number of seedlings divided by number of seeds planted, multiplied by 100), create a chart to display similarities and differences among plants, or determine the mean, medium and mode of the plants’ height. Books about gardening can be read and used during the process. Let your children read labels of seed packets as well as planting instructions. Have children keep a journal where they chronicle their gardening experience or write stories about gardening.
Along with our regular tomatoes and cucumbers, this year we added three types of lettuce, spinach, kale, red bell peppers, zucchini, watermelon and a number of herbs. Our eight-year old is very into gardening. He loves going out each morning and evening t check on the garden each day, water the plants if need be, and learn from the entire process. Several years ago we tried to start a gardening journal. This was one of the videos we captured.
If you already garden with your kids and family, I’m sure you’ve already felt the benefits and probably have additional ones aside from the ones I’ve offered here. Gardening is about so much more than merely growing food. It’s an all-encompassing activity that fuels both nature and the human soul.
We planted carrots this year, which L is VERY excited about. Almost every night we’re outside checking out the progress of the carrots.
So cute! If things go well this year, maybe we’ll add carrots next year.
Laurel C says
We LOVE growing our own veggies!
We love gardening. We have a square foot garden (raised bed) this year and my youngest and i tend to it everyday. I am hooked on gardening now! It even has my kids eating lettuce and spinach faster than it can grow!
Sweet! Yes, I am hoping my boys will eat more salads when we can pick our own lettuce.
Mitzi Cline says
This is my daughter’s 3rd year using raised beds and we always look forward to fresh veggies and herbs.
Pam Oliver says
Love gardening with my grandson! He is so curious, helpful, & patient.
My little one is only 4 months old but I do bring her into the garden with me. Can’t wait for years of fun to come.